The Alabama Senate passed a sweeping anti-gang bill that will crack down on activities related to criminal enterprises. Championed by Sen. Will Barfoot (R-Pike Road), the bill won strong bipartisan support in a 32-0 vote.
The bill imposes aggressive mandatory consecutive penalties for any individual who knowingly possesses, uses, or carries a firearm during an action intended to further the interests of a criminal enterprise. It also mandates that individuals aged 16 and older be charged, arrested, and tried as adults for conduct related to the criminal enterprise.
The legislation defines a criminal enterprise member through multiple criteria:
- Admits to criminal enterprise membership.
- Is voluntarily identified as a criminal enterprise member by a parent or guardian.
- Is identified as a criminal enterprise member by a reliable informant.
- Adopts the style of dress of a criminal enterprise.
- Adopts the use of a hand sign identified as used by a criminal enterprise.
- Has a tattoo identified as used by a criminal enterprise.
- Associates with one or more known criminal enterprise members.
- Is identified as a criminal enterprise member by physical evidence.
The bill provides for penalty enhancements for felonies committed to further the interests of any criminal enterprise.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall praised the legislation and its focus on gang violence: “My Office worked hand-in-hand with law enforcement to develop the Gang Prevention Act, as we continue to see the proliferation of violent street groups in too many of our communities.
“Gang violence is a cancer, and tough sentences are the antidote.”
Marshall also noted the dedication of Barfoot and other legislators in working to combat criminal activity across the state. Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Reed echoed these sentiments, saying, “Together, the Alabama Legislature and law enforcement officers across the state are taking a stand to fight these heinous crimes and protect our constituents.”
My office worked hand-in-hand with law enforcement to develop SB143. I applaud the Senate for moving forward with this legislation and prioritizing the safety of our citizens. pic.twitter.com/rj48SxnDGm
— Attorney General Steve Marshall (@AGSteveMarshall) May 26, 2023
“This atrocious violence that is attracting our youth and young adults continues to increase across our nation, and here in Alabama, we’re putting our foot down,” Barfoot said. “This bill will support our state’s law enforcement by specifically combatting and deterring organized illegal activity and violence in our communities.”
With passage in the Senate, it now proceeds to the House Judiciary Committee. Similar legislation has had support in the House this session.
Grayson Everett is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @Grayson270 for coverage of the 2023 legislative session.